The Sustainable Alternative to Renewables in California

Anyone serious about ushering California into an electric age, much less the entire world, faces immutable facts that are indifferent to passions and principles. With algebraic certainty, these facts lead to uncomfortable conclusions: It is impractical if not impossible to achieve an all-electric future by relying on solar, wind, and geothermal power, supplemented by more novel power generation technologies such as harvesting the energy in waves and tides. And even if it were done, it might not be the optimal solution for the environment.

A few years ago, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, Mark Jacobson, completed a report that quantified what it would take, in terms of the installed base of renewable generating and storage assets to move California to a 100 percent net zero energy economy. Relying primarily on over 20,000 wind turbines with an average capacity of 5 megawatts each, along with utility scale solar farms, an analysis published in March 2022 by the California Policy Center estimated the land requirement for this undertaking at over 10,000 square miles on land, mostly for wind farms, and over 15,000 square miles offshore, also for wind farms.

In theory, Jacobson’s recommendations would work, insofar as this stupefying quantity of wind and solar power, properly buffered with battery storage assets, would nearly double the capacity of California’s energy grid. Jacobson’s scheme estimates California’s average electricity output expanding to just over 100 gigawatts. In 2019, the most recent year for which complete data is available, California’s […] Read More

Examining California’s Renewable Energy Plan

If you live in California, by now you’ve probably seen the ads, either on prime time television or online, exhorting you to “Power Down 4 to 9PM.” These ads are produced by “Energy Upgrade California,” paid for by “investor-owned energy utility customers under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission.”

According to the mission of Energy Upgrade California, they are “a statewide initiative committed to uniting Californians to strive toward reaching our state’s energy goals,” and those goals include “getting 33% of our electricity from renewable resources by 2030.”

And it doesn’t end there. Over the past twenty years, through increasingly ambitious legislation and executive orders, California’s official state policy now aims to “achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible, and no later than 2045.”

The misanthropic cruelty of these laws ought to be obvious. Normal people need more electricity between 4 and 9 PM, and no amount of public education can overcome that circadian fact. This is the time of day when normal people complete their daily work, prepare and eat dinner with their families, complete routine and necessary chores from doing the laundry to packing lunches for the next day. This is the time of day when people want to heat or cool their homes to a comfortable temperature, and power up all the countless electronic gadgets which are now required for everything from homework to paying the bills. They don’t want to wait till 9 PM to do […] Read More